Alarak: First Impressions and Pro Opinions


Written by: EsportsJohn

Not all heroes are born of altruism…some, like Alarak, simply desire vengeance. As the new Highlord of the Tal’darim, Alarak leads his people to a destiny free of the corrupt influence of the fallen Xel’naga, Amon.

It’s hard not to acknowledge the “cool” factor of Alarak. He’s a no-nonsense guy with telekinetic powers similar to Star Wars baddie Kylo Ren. His lore alone as Highlord of the Tal’Darim, a fanatical religious faction of Protoss, is enough to make any StarCraft fan gush with excitement. Even though his lore was not 100% accurate to his iteration in Heroes of the Storm, he still came out pretty cool (and sith-like). It’s hard not to feel like a badass when playing him.

Overall, he seems fairly well balanced, if a little on the weak side. His damage can be downright insane, but he tends to falter without some dedicated support due to no reliable form of sustain or escape. This has led to a pretty low win rate on Hots Logs, but his power level isn’t far from the sweet spot. In fact, similar to Greymane, a few mistargeted buffs could easily push him over the edge and make him OP.

Strengths and Weaknesses


  • Huge burst damage
  • Tons of utility (silence, battlefield manipulation)
  • Strong laning presence
  • Powerful teamfighting capabilities
  • The most kickass voice acting in the game


  • Poor sustain
  • Cooldown dependent
  • Vulnerable to CC
  • Terrible PvE


Alarak is all about the big moments. He lives and dies for those opportunities to jump in and blow all his cooldowns to delete someone instantly. When he dives, he dives hard. The rest of the time, however, he’s mostly just controlling the flow of fights and poking until he has the chance to dive in and finish someone off. In a lot of ways, Alarak is similar to Greymane in concept. Blizzard went through a lot of iterations with Alarak, but the overall product came out pretty nicely.

The unique ability that defines Alarak is Telekinesis, a vector targeting (click + drag) ability that pushes enemies, as well as himself, around. What makes this ability so powerful is its versatility. For instance, it can pull people out of position for a big stun train combo or drag someone out of range of their healer. It also excels as a disengagement tool to push chasing opponents away or boost Alarak out of harm’s way. It can even be used as an interrupt for channeled spells. Talents like Applied Force and Quick Mind allow Alarak to control the flow of battle even more smoothly—but at the cost of some of his damage.

Machines of War promotional art for Heroes of the Storm

Photo Credit: Blizzard

Telekinesis isn’t Alarak’s only utility, though. Discord Strike also brings a brutal AoE silence on top of a hell of a lot of damage. Discord Strike isn’t always easy to hit because of the short delay, but the effects can be devastating when it does, especially in clumped up teamfights.

The final piece of Alarak’s base kit is Lightning Surge, a fairly straightforward point-and-click ability used mostly for sustain. There are some cute tricks that you can do by lining up shots to hit multiple Heroes (especially if you take Thunderstruck), but most of the time, it’s just a good old-fashioned poke ability.

Blizzard took a fascinating approach to Alarak’s Heroics. Instead of choosing one at 10 and then upgrading it, you can just pick up your second Heroic at 20. Right now, Alarak’s level 10 choice is a no-brainer: Deadly Charge. It offers a long-distance engage, guaranteed damage, and even an escape when used properly. Counter-Strike can be picked up at 20 in rare circumstances where Alarak needs to survive a huge burst of damage, but it is simply subpar to Deadly Charge in its current iteration.

Due to his trait, Sadism, he can dish out some serious hurt to anyone that’s unfortunate enough to get close to him, but the drawback is that his PvE is substantially weaker than other melee Assassins. For this reason, he’s not very useful for capturing merc camps, sieging, or clearing waves.


Blizzard finally made talents with trade-offs that weren’t terrible. I have always been an outspoken critic of talents like Greymane’s original Unfettered Assault and Artanis’s Triple Strike because they trade functionality for random utility, and often made the ability worse with the talent. But this time Blizzard got it right.

Alarak’s trait Sadism is not fixed at 100%. Various talents like Dissonance and Quick Mind will decrease that number by 10% in exchange for extra utility. Overall, this is a genius system for trading functionality for damage, and it really forces players to think through talent choices on a deeper level. Do I need the extra cooldown reduction on Telekinesis? Is it worth sacrificing damage? These questions will pop up in your mind frequently when playing Alarak and influence the way that you play him.

That said, whenever that choice isn’t present, there is actually very little room for flexibility in Alarak’s talent tree at the moment. Most of the Lightning Surge talents aren’t impactful and are usually heavily outweighed by Q and W talents. On top of that, some talents like Chaos Reigns and Pure Malice are so good that they’re nearly impossible to give up except in rare circumstances.

At levels 4 and 7, Double Cross and Chaos Reigns combo together to greatly increase Alarak’s damage and reliability, making them almost mandatory. Talents at 1 and 16 are flexible, however. Picking both Applied Force and Projected Force gives Alarak the ability to influence teamfights at long range and set up big stun combos but greatly decrease his Sadism damage. Talents like Power Conduit, Without Effort, and Sustaining Power are also options for a poke-oriented style that don’t sacrifice damage.

Alarak’s level 20 talents offer extraordinarily interesting choices. Along with the ability to pick his other Heroic, he also has access to two generic abilities with new, fascinating drawbacks. Last Laugh is a version of Bolt of the Storm that allows you to cleanse all effects at the price of dropping all the way down to 1 HP. In theory, this is a cool talent that Alarak can use to escape in the nick of time, but—at least in my experience—the drawback is simply too punishing. After using Last Laugh, you’re out of the fight for some time anyway, so saving yourself has very little impact on the overall outcome.

Hasty Bargain goes in a different direction and offers more damage via a form of Rewind that permanently reduces the percentage of Sadism; every time you use it, you become weaker overall. The huge risk/reward tradeoff forces you to think critically about how you use Hasty Bargain. However, it’s almost always worth taking despite the drawback because of the potential to double your burst damage, and the Sadism that you lose is also somewhat negligible since the game is unlikely to last much longer after level 20 anyway.

Professional Opinions

On Kit, Design, and Implementation

HongCoNo, Tempo Storm
Design is freaking awesome!

darkmok, Misfits
I would probably be more qualified to say something good after having played with him competitively, but what I can say is that he is a Hero with high skill cap. Basically everything you do depends on your placement of abilities. He has no good wave clear, so he has to shine in brawling and assassinating Heroes since he mostly doesn’t add power to objectives. I do think he’s good and has his place. I think he can surprise enemies with his placement of Telekinesis, and his lvl 20 is insane—the amount of plays you can do with his version of Rewind or taking two ults….

Goku, Dumpster Tier Superstars
His kit and design is very similar to Kerrigan; they both are burst type Heroes that rely on their combo. What separates Alarak from Kerrigan and the rest of the melee Assassins is that his kit provides a 1.5 second silence which can decide teamfights. On top of that, with his ultimate Deadly Charge, he can easily dive the back-line or provide burst damage.

Lockdown, Tempo Storm
Really like the Hero design and abilities. Very mechanically complicated Hero.

Minsc, Caster
When I first heard about his announcement, I said to myself, “Hell yeah! Him!” Then, I realised it will be one more melee Assassin amongst others, and the hype declined. Finally, he got released, and I got him into my very hands—and, oh man, did he deliver.

He’s a mix between a combo-based fragile brawler and a spell damage oriented caster. [He] doesn’t really have his place in a heavy front line like Sonya or Thrall, but definitely has his role to set up fights, create ganks, or force enemies into a fight they might not like. Although this point of view has been debated with some friends, I like to compare him to Kerrigan. He “creates” action with his spells, and [you] need to ponder the choice of whether to use his kit offensively or defensively, which makes him as much of a threat as [a liability because] he can be punished for a lack of patience.

Mudsliide, former GFE manager
I think his kit is really interesting and, at the same time, frustrating. Having to be immobile during Discord Strike is something I dislike personally (it’s a 0.5 second cast time). Standing still on a melee Assassin just feels off to me. His Telekinesis is a strange sort of skillshot to land (I compare it to the League of Legends champion Viktor’s Ray Beam thing) but works well enough as you get used to it. Lightning Surge is your standard point and click ability but feels a bit underwhelming to me. Deadly Charge is my current go-to just for diving the backline and things of that nature. I love that Blizzard continues to give us new toys to play with in the way that abilities work—they just don’t always work well the first try.

On Professional Play and Meta Changes

HongCoNo, Tempo Storm
He’s pretty OP, so most likely going to see competitive play.

Goku, Dumpster Tier Superstars
He’ll pop out in each region, but he won’t have a definite spot. He’s very similar to Kerrigan where you need to build around him for his lack of wave clear.

Lockdown, Tempo Storm
I think Alarak requires a lot of skill, so probably going to take some time before it sees competitive play.

Minsc, Caster
In the future meta, he definitely has his place, but more as a thought choice [special pick] instead of a must-have Hero. I believe his base kit makes him a really strong counter to many Heroes, but he cannot be left on his own. So on an extremely aggressive lineup, his damage and engage potential, combined with the silence, will make him quite interesting to look at.

Mudsliide, former GFE manager
I’m not entirely sure [about the meta]. Korea may run him since they seem open to trying a lot of different styles of play. Between EU and NA though, I don’t think anyone will touch him just yet. He feels slightly underwhelming in raw damage output, and I don’t know why you would grab him over another choice as of the current moment. We have time until Blizzcon though. I see Blizzard giving him a buff or two, so maybe we see him then?

On Map and Composition Viability

HongCoNo, Tempo Storm
Not sure about team comps, but probably gonna be good on Tomb of the Spider Queen and Dragon Shire.

Goku, Dumpster Tier Superstars
I feel like his best maps would have to be rotational maps like Dragon Shire and Tomb of the Spider Queen. But he has the option to play on every map. What he needs most would be a stun tank like E.T.C. or Muradin—that way it becomes very easy for Alarak to use his combo.

Lockdown, Tempo Storm
Can be played on any map, and will most likely be used as a melee DPS.

Minsc, Caster
I think he will work great on teamfight-oriented maps. although his lack of bonus damage towards neutrals/buildings might come as a problem. [But] like I always say: “dead people don’t prevent you from pushing”, meaning that if you kill your opponent, you can easily snowball out of it.

Mudsliide, former GFE manager
I think he works well on smaller maps or maps with good chokes—so for me, Tomb of the Spider Queen, Towers of Doom and Cursed Hollow. I don’t know where he fits into compositions at the moment. I’m not entirely sure if I should be dive heavy and just be in the fight all the time or play a little further back and silence incoming opponents to defend my carry. I think we’ll have to see the players that are clearly miles ahead of me play him in competitive (if and when we see him) to answer that.

Final Thoughts

darkmok, Misfits
His E is like 0 damage to minions. It does provide some laning power and self-sustain though. But apart from that, it’s super underwhelming. They need to buff the numbers of that for sure—or add a slow, I don’t know.

Goku, Dumpster Tier Superstars
I feel like Alarak is underrated in general. He’s a very strong Hero if you play him correctly. His Telekinesis is very strong to disengage a fight or to pull the enemy healer towards your team.

Minsc, Caster
He might be overlooked as a Hero that will not break the game. But in my opinion, a very skilled player within the right team can, as Medivh does, completely turn the tide and overthrow an overconfident opponent.

A point on his talent tree as well: the choice between utility talents that reduce Hero damage or not is insanely well thought out. It offers Alarak the possibility to adapt to many situations within each game, and each talent tier can be a gamebreaker if the opponent doesn’t pay attention.

Mudsliide, former GFE manager
Remember when Artanis came out? Everyone said he was underwhelming. He was not tanky enough to be a full-on Warrior nor did he do enough damage to replace a Hero like Sonya. He was clunky and slow. Alarak reminds me of that. Slow and clunky, unsure where he belongs within the current game. While he has interesting design choices and an aesthetic that I enjoy, I think he needs a little more time in the oven personally.

Huge thanks to Dongmin Jeong for Korean interviews and translations!

EsportsJohn is also a toxic Protoss who only criticizes his team. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.